Build Careers, Not Moments
PLUS: Bandcamp Listening Parties, Major Label Revenue
Welcome, artists & builders.
Each week, we navigate music’s future together.
Today, I tackle the industry’s “depression” about the state of breaking artists & how we can work towards an artist-focused future.
Inside Issue #17
💡 Context: Build careers, not moments
🛠️ Tools: Bandcamp Listening Parties
📊 Numbers: How are the majors doing?
🗞️ What You Missed: Music’s $28 billion opportunity in Africa & more
Why Aren’t Artists “Breaking”?
J. Erving gets it.
These artists won’t exist if we don’t incentivize them.
They won’t thrive if we don’t support them.
We’ve Forgotten the Point
That we should build careers, not moments.
Sure, attention matters.
But the endless pursuit of short-term, unrepeatable wins creates a system in which nothing is real. Nothing is authentic.
And nothing lasts.
This is what happens when you chase the wrong things
→ When artists are removed from context
→ When it's all discovery & no retention
→ When it's virality over everything
The incentives of streaming & social don’t align with long-term artist careers.
They’re incredible tools.
But, don’t bend & conform to optimize everything you do for an incrementally higher chance at playlisting or virality.
That’s chasing moments, not careers.
You’ll lose sight of what’s authentic & drives real fan connections.
The things that compound.
The things that last.
Don’t forget the point.
Artists careers are not a lottery ticket
Something that either hits & you’re a star, or you don’t matter.
Real artist careers exist outside superstardom. And we need to re-assess what “breaking” looks like.
Artists that build real communities are winning.
Keep buying lotto tickets & you’ll lose.
Building From the Ground Up
To develop artists & fandom, we need systems that support it.
1. CHANGE THE INCENTIVES
Passivity → Interactivity & Depth
Think payout models, pricing, and product focus. These base layers determine everything on top of them. If streaming’s north-star was driving merch, memberships & ticketing, you’d see an artist-first, engaged experience.
2. CHANGE THE METRICS
Low-intent → High-intent.
Focus on measures of fandom, create more of them, and make them easier to track. Resources funnel to what we measure.
3. CHANGE THE ENGINES
Funding, support & distribution pick winners.
If we better monetize fandom, and better measure it, systems will rise to better support artists showing promise in it. (I discussed some options last issue).
4. CHANGE THE MINDSET
Build fans. Build careers.
Stop chasing virality.
Stop using empty metrics.
Stop optimizing for discovery 100% of the time.
Stop churning out music with only Spotify & Tiktok in mind.
Start focusing on what sets you apart.
Start building from the ground up.
Start crafting real stories.
Building for development is a long game.
Focus on high-intent fans & high-intent interactions.
We all need discovery & reach. But that’s only part of it.
Oh, and the majors are doing just fine as is….see below.
📚️ My 3 Favorite Reads This Week
All around the issue of building artist careers
🛠️ NEW TOOLS
Make Your Release a Shared Moment
Bandcamp has launched Listening Parties.
Start sending people where you’re the context - for a shared moment with all your biggest fans.
Premiere your album
On or before release day
Chat & answer questions
All right where they buy.
Features Include: You can add moderators, enable supporter-only chat & chat goes for 1-hour after the album ends.
They Should Add: Tokengating, only listen if you’ve pre-ordered, and limited drops that are only available during the party.
Plus, live audio commentary during the stream would be nice. I’m trying a work-around where you cut it in pre-recorded.
🧠 Shared moments are so rare. Create them wherever you can.
🧰 3 More Tools Like This
Major labels are making $72 million every day
The 3 majors made $1 billion more revenue in the 1st half of 2023 than 2022. It doesn’t look like the lack of new superstars is hurting them.
73% of streaming is catalog. And they own the blue chips.
🔥 What You Missed
Private Equity loves music tech, so long as it’s music creation
UMG, WMG & Google in talks to license artist voices for AI deepfakes
Anotherblock sells 50k+ music nfts last week
Jay-Z’s Roc Nation drop sneakers using NFC x blockchain to verify authenticity & unlock mixtapes
🔥 Oh, That’s Helpful
Plus, you’re chances to get on New Music Friday & what it actually means for you.
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